The Board of Trustees discussed task forces, approved a $2.8 billion budget and re-elected its chair at its annual May meeting.

At last year's May meeting, the Board created four task forces to advance President Vincent Price's strategic goals. Those task forces were activating the global network, advancing Duke science and technology, the future of Central Campus and the next generation living and learning experience. Each task force was made up of trustees, administrators, faculty and students, and they revolved around a single goal. 

The task forces produced recommendations which will be "incorporated into ongoing strategic planning efforts of the board and the university administration," according to a news release

Richard Riddell, senior vice president and secretary to the Board of Trustees, wrote in an email to The Chronicle that the Board took no action on the reports.

“What happens next is the strategic reports go to the president and the administration for consideration and potential implementation,” he wrote. “Trustees will continue to review and advise on these issues as part of their fiduciary responsibilities.”

The Board discussed the reports of the four task forces at the meeting, but they are not yet publicly available. Summaries will be available in the coming weeks, according to the release.

Riddell explained that the task forces on activating the global network and the next generation living and learning experience will continue to meet next Fall, advising administration on the “review and potential implementation” of their reports. 

“In addition, four faculty members and eight students (four undergraduate and four graduate/professional) will be invited to participate in four strategic thinking sessions at board meetings, which will focus on the opportunities for enhancing and strengthening the commercialization of research in the region,” he wrote.

The Trustees also approved Duke's $2.8 billion operating budget for next year, compared to last year’s $2.7 billion budget. This budget plans for a 1.3% increase in expected expenditures from last year, which is the “smallest budgeted growth” since the Great Recession of 2008, according to the report. 

Duke Hospital and clinical components of the Duke University Health System are not included in the budget, though the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing are included.

Undergraduate financial aid will see a 5.9% boost from the University, with total support growing to $185 million from $174 million last year.

The rate of financial aid growth decreased for next year, as the Board increased aid 11% last year and 9% the year before.

Financial aid has been a hot-button topic this academic year. In the fall, the University wrote that financial aid would stop covering Duke health insurance for families whose expected contribution was greater than $0, and then it reversed the decision. Some students have also had fears about potential spending cuts to financial aid.

Riddell wrote that it is a priority of the board to ensure that Duke has the resources to support its need-based financial aid program. However, neither financial aid nor health care was a “specific focus” of any of the Board meetings this weekend.

The budget also includes a 3.4% rise in total salaries and benefits.

The Trustees re-elected Jack Bovender, Trinity ‘67 and Graduate School ‘69, to a second two-year term as chair of the Board. He was elected as chair in 2017, and will now serve through 2021. 

Bovender is the retired chairman and CEO of HCA Healthcare. He has been on the Board of Trustees since 2007, and he also serves on the Duke University Health System board.

In other business

The Board approved two construction projects—a second hot water plant on campus and “landscape and lighting improvements” to the entry corridor between Chapel Drive and the Chapel Circle.

It also raised the Division of Head and Neck Surgery to a department in the School of Medicine. 

Trustees passed resolutions honoring two retiring administrators: Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, and Ben Reese, vice president for institutional equity. Finally, the Board formally approved the degrees to students that will be awarded at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony.